The holiday countdown is well under way, filled with spirited heart-warming festivities — many that remind us of those time-honored rituals of an earlier era. Sample the season’s delights to be found throughout the area.
Old Westbury Gardens’ holiday glitz
Westbury House, the elegant country estate at Old Westbury Gardens, offers a festive glimpse of early 20th century holiday merriment, before it closes for the winter. The celebration — in full swing right now, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., through Dec. 22 — reflects what the festive season was like during those opulent decades of the early 1900s when the Phipps family lived there.
The period rooms in which John S. Phipps — the eldest son of Henry Phipps, Andrew Carnegie’s partner at Carnegie Steel — and his family resided are impeccably decorated with wreaths, mantelpiece drapes, plenty of greenery, and other horticultural arrangements. Antique clothing and toys add to the charm of the decorated rooms.
Bring the kids to create some holiday crafts, share their holiday wishes with Santa and enjoy hot cider and cookies on the West Porch.
“Perhaps one of the most spirited parts of the holidays at Old Westbury Gardens is Christmas at Westbury House,” says Old Westbury Gardens President and CEO Nancy Costopulos. “Each November our horticulture staff works tirelessly to decorate each historic room of the house with elegant Christmas trees, wreaths, mantelpiece arrangements, topiaries, and plants. With cookies, cider, and even our own Santa, our holiday celebrations are a must for the entire family.”
“Tour the magnificence of Westbury House and see for yourself.”
Special programming includes “A Merry, Very Victorian Christmas!,” Saturday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. Examine the origins of many of our Christmas and end-of-the year traditions with educator-interpreter Janet Demarest. She’ll lead an interactive evening of discovery, with storytelling, songs, and demonstrations. Advance registration is required.
Old Westbury Gardens is located at 71 Old Westbury Rd., Old Westbury. For further information, contact (516) 333-0048 or www.oldwestburygardens.org.
'A Christmas Carol'
Charles Dickens’ timeless holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol,” is interpreted as a radio-style staged reading by Adelphi University students and faculty. The annual reading, dramatized by Barbara Feld, is shared with community on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 11 a.m.
Feld’s adaptation of the beloved tale, features more than a dozen student actors. Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, along with the other characters from this treasured story, are vividly portrayed in this always-popular retelling.
The one-hour performance is free; in the spirit of “A Christmas Carol”; everyone attending is encouraged to contribute a donation of non-perishable food products to be provided to the Mary Brennan Interfaith Nutrition Network in Hempstead for those in need.
See the performance at Cathedral of the Incarnation, 50 Cathedral Ave., Garden City. For more information, call (516) 877-4000 or visit aupac.adelphi.edu.
Festivities by candlelight at Old Bethpage Village
The holiday season always sparkles at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, which welcomes everyone to take a journey back in time during “Candlelight Evenings.” The popular 19th century holiday celebration, which runs Dec. 21-23 and Dec. 27-29, serves as a festive finale to its season; the village closes for the winter after the that.
The historic village — all aglow in its “Hallmark Card”-inspired setting as flickering candles illuminate the historic homes — displays its holiday finery while showcasing its festive spirit. An annual ritual for many at this time of year, the nighttime ambiance lends a distinctive dimension to the charming setting.
The many activities enchant guests of all ages, all set within the confines of a rural valley locale. Hear popular 19th century music and enjoy other forms of traditional entertainment, including a brass quartet, fiddlers playing popular seasonal tunes and traditional American dancers, along with performances by local ensembles — all happening throughout the village. Everyone is welcome to join in the reels, quadrilles and contra dances.
Stories of Christmases past and classic children’s holiday tales are retold each night, set against the backdrop of the grandly decorated Christmas tree circa 1866. Visitors can gather around a rousing bonfire in the village’s crossroads and enjoy hot, mulled cider and other refreshments, including chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Also check out the broom making demonstrations, along with a train show and craft market, and visit Santa, of course. New this year, a Twelve days of Christmas scavenger hunt, adds to the festivities.
The evening features a candlelight procession starting at 5:15 each night.
The village is open evenings only for this event. Visitors are welcome to bring their own candle lanterns or flashlights to guide their way. Old Bethpage Village Restoration is on Round Swamp Rd., Old Bethpage. For information, contact (516) 572-8401 or www.obvrnassau.com.